But it’s not in our budget!
One of the great things about cohousing is that we budget for things we value and tend to get more for our money that way. Every community budget works a little differently, and some have more flex than others, but at the end of the day, I’m betting every community has had the experience of wanting something that is good for the whole community, that just isn’t in the budget. It’s a sticky problem, because you don’t want to miss out on an opportunity, but you also want to respect the budget.
The good news is that the HOA budget is not the only way things can be bought for the good of the community. Cohousers are creative and generous. It’s part of why we live so richly.
One way is for someone to simply pay for the thing. Someone, or maybe a pair of someone’s says, this would be a great thing for my community, and hey, I’m part of my community, so this would be a great thing for me. I can afford it, I’ll just buy it. This happens a lot with little things – a couple of decorative plants for the entry, a bottle of dish soap while I’m buying my groceries, that sort of thing. It can happen for bigger things too, especially among community members who have funds to spare.
Pledging is another way. It usually takes an organizer to get this started. They send out an email that says, There is this cool thing, I hope we can all go in together and buy it. Send me your pledge of how much you can contribute. I’ll tally it all up and let you know when we have enough.
My favorite way, though, might be the one similar to how I used to pay for pizza parties in college. We’d have a group of friends over, order some pizza, and I’d put a bowl on the coffee table and announce to the assembled crowd, “I need the bowl to have $20 in it.” It always did. Actually, usually it had $30, so I saved the extra $10 for the next time. No math, no tallying, no guilt. Just the need and abundance to match, and we had a pizza party. This works in community too. It looks something like this, “We have a chance to buy a used kayak to use on our lake. We need $200. I’ve put a can on my porch. I’m sure we can do this, put your contributions in the can.”
Why am I telling you all this? Well, there’s an online conference coming up, and there is a deal to be had. Communities can get access for all of their members for the discount rate of $250. Ends up being about $10 per household, for 12 hours of great information. Or less than $1/session. It’s a really great deal. But the thing is, not all communities have budget for that sort of thing. (Hint: plan for this next year!) So how do they get the great deal? Any of the options above, or a combination of them. Come together and get creative, it’s what communities do best.